Writing

I was initially advised to write by my cousin, writer Pauline Chen, for therapeutic reasons. She told me that writing or journaling could be a very cathartic experience. When I began this blog, it enabled me to reach out to people who had not heard my story. Now my aim is not only therapeutic, but also to have my story be heard and to maybe provide hope. The response to the blog has been incredible. I have had friends with whom I hadn’t been in contact reach out and send me well wishes; I’ve had close friends tell me how much they enjoy it.

My cousin's book
My cousin’s book

I’ve been asked by many what my goal is with the blog: “Perhaps a book eventually?” I’m always asked. The answer is ‘yes’ eventually I’d like to put this together in the form of a book, but having this blog has been rewarding in its own right. I enjoy taking time out of the day to sit down specifically to write. The original aim of writing for therapeutic purposes is accomplished through blogging; my mind also works now in ways it never has. I find myself constantly thinking about how this current activity is affected by my condition and how my condition also affects it. I am now also pondering different ways to convey my message.

—– Communication ——

For humans, there are various ways to communicate. The obvious modes are through speech and written word. There are, however, more subtle ways of communicating, such as through body language or even actions. Because this tumor stripped me of my normal speech, I had to depend on the other forms of communication to express myself[1], mostly through writing. Thankfully I enjoy writing and am still able to do it, so I can depend on this modality. If I were unable to write, it’d be akin to trying to pay a bill without any money in the bank: it’s possible (with some fines), but in no way ideal.

——- Process ——–

On every Monday and Friday I release a new post to the blog. As with everything else in life, what you see on the website is the result of a long, arduous process. Acclaimed author and professor William Zinsser once wrote that “Nobody becomes Tom Wolfe overnight, not even Tom Wolfe;”[2] Becoming good at any endeavor requires hard work. This is a lesson I had learned from my tennis days and my pursuit of a career in medicine. I believe it is a false notion that raw talent is all it takes for someone to succeed in their field. Was Michael Jordan born with some gifts that helped him become the best basketball player of all time? Of course yes, but it is no coincidence that he was also well known for his unbelievable work ethic, always being the first one at the gym and the last to leave. While ‘raw talent’ and natural abilities help, I believe that greatness requires a base of hard work, and that talent only aids in making this person great. My only point here is that to make this blog even just presentable takes more work than it seems. I will not fool myself into thinking that I have any natural talent when it comes to writing, but I have no issue telling you that I do work hard at it.

Book by William Zinsser
Book by William Zinsser

Because I release posts every Monday and Friday, I typically sit down to write each article the week before. I then send the completed article to my older sister, Amy, for editing.[3] She usually edits each piece and sends it back in 1-2 days. I then take one final look at the piece, make any necessary changes, and post it to the website.

I initially had a large reservoir of articles to post as I had spent much of my initial recovery writing. However now, I write most of the pieces only weeks prior to them being posted. Some who have followed the blog since its early days tell me that my style of writing has evolved over time. Even though it is probably due to my different views on my recovery, I’d like to think that the countless hours I have spent writing has resulted in an improvement in my writing skills. Zinsser goes on to say “if you went to work for a newspaper that required you to write two or three articles every day, you’d be a better writer after six months. You wouldn’t necessarily be writing well.”[4] My hope is that my practice is improving my writing.

——– Writing ———

Maya Angelou once said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”[5] Even though now I hope to share my story with anyone that will listen, the process of writing still serves its original intended purpose: to provide a medium in which I could let any emotions out that were trapped inside of me; for therapeutic reasons. As Maya Angelou said, keeping such a story untold can cause great damage to one’s psyche.

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

 

[1] I can thankfully still speak, but only in a delayed monotone way. Perhaps it’s because I’m self-conscious but I now try to avoid any situations that would involve speaking (i.e. telephone calls).

[2] On Writing Well, Collins,2006, p18

[3] Amy graduated from Yale University and is a great writer.

[4] P47

[5] http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/writing

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